Georgia is showing problems are deep and widespread

There are more than a few problems with Mark Richt's football team, as evidenced by a 2-6 record in the last eight SEC games.

There are more than a few problems with Mark Richt's football team, as evidenced by a 2-6 record in the last eight SEC games.

ATHENS – It’s not about one player not being here. It’s not about playing a freshman quarterback or having a certain soft spot on the depth chart or the big, bad NCAA being out to get Georgia.

When a program sinks to lows not seen since the Ray Goff administration, it’s not an aberration.

The head coach (Mark Richt) is 2-6 in his past eight SEC games. The vaunted offensive line coach (Stacy Searels) frankly hasn’t done bupkis since his arrival, recent evidence being that his supposed top group of linemen just allowed six sacks to a projected average defense. The new defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham, isn’t looking much better than the old one (Willie Martinez).

When all of those things happen, we’ve transitioned from downward trend to potential new identity. Georgia is an average team right now.

The Bulldogs lost to Arkansas 31-24 on Saturday for the first time since 1993, dropping to 0-2 in the SEC for the first time since opening 0-4 in that same season under Goff. Richt has built far more credits than Goff ever dreamed off, including two SEC titles. But there’s as much uncertainty about direction right now as ever before.

This latest loss was not devoid of positives. The Dogs displayed the kind of resolve that seemingly was missing last season, scoring two touchdowns in a four-minute span in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 24-24. But one late-game rally can’t whitewash the flaws.

The question now is: What direction do they go? Next week’s game at Mississippi State hardly is a gimme. Then comes a non-conference game at Colorado, before the Dogs return to Sanford Stadium for an emotional meeting against Tennessee and the new coach with a familiar last name (Derek Dooley).

Is there any game one can mark down as an automatic win right now?

Richt maintained Georgia continues to “get better,” but he conceded: “When we reach that peak [later this season], hopefully the games will still be meaningful. Right now it’s hard to say if they will be.”

Aaron Murray goes down for one of Arkansas's six sacks Saturday, a poor showing by the offensive line. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Aaron Murray goes down for one of Arkansas's six sacks, a poor showing by the offensive line. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

It’s easier to project success when the problems are limited. Not the case here. Consider:

♦ Last week at South Carolina, the defense got ripped by the ground game. Saturday it got ripped by the pass. Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked just once (with three minutes left). Almost as disturbing: Grantham put it all on the players, seemingly accepting no blame. Quote: “Guys have to do what the calls tell them to do. If you don’t do that, that’s why there’s inconsistency. You may play for 60 plays and 54 of them you look good, but then all of a sudden you give up six explosive plays and those can override a lot of good things.”

Coach: 54 out of 60 doesn’t get it done, especially when there’s not a defender within a zip code of a receiver on touchdown plays of 57, 22 and 40 yards (the decider with 15 seconds left).

♦ The offensive line was supposed to be the strength of the team. The Dogs ran the ball better this week, but quarterback Aaron Murray was sacked six times. Some of that was Murray holding onto the ball too long, but most of it was poor protection. Searels has not lived up to his billing since leaving LSU in 2007.

Murray was knocked dizzy at times and afterward wore a bandage under his chin to cover cuts (he said from his chinstrap).

Bobo looked like a wounded soldier himself, as if he had been punched in the nose. A gash ran down the top of it, but he said he didn’t know how it got there.

“I just saw blood trickling down [in the first quarter],” he said.

Maybe it will show up on film. All of the wounds will. They’re significant, they’re widespread and there is no indication that they’re going away any time soon.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

981 comments Add your comment

Cuz

September 18th, 2010
6:04 pm

Cuz

September 18th, 2010
6:04 pm

Cuz

September 18th, 2010
6:06 pm

Hey we got a gimmie versue Idaho State.

Cuz

September 18th, 2010
6:06 pm

Oh my God, the world has ended and I am the only one left.

Robards

September 18th, 2010
6:07 pm

4th or 5th. Sorry Jeff. Keep the faith and keep picking your Dawgs. Maybe next year. I’m thinking 4-4 in the SEC is about the best for your Boys.

dawgonit

September 18th, 2010
6:10 pm

We ran the ball well enough. We threw the ball well enough. We played defense well enough some of the time. You know what that points to as the problem…Coaching. It’s so painfully obvious. Bobo is not a good offensive coordinator. We moved the ball from the shot gun, but we always went back to the I formation when it counted. He always calls the wrong play at the wrong time.

Seriously? When’s the last game the we actually outcoached somebody? I can’t remember. It probably goes back to Auburn a couple of years ago.

bigdawg

September 18th, 2010
6:10 pm

Bring back Ray Goff and Willie Martinez. The Dawgs are awful.

todd grantham

September 18th, 2010
6:12 pm

Time for Richt to call the realtor that is helping Damon sell his house.

Oh well

September 18th, 2010
6:13 pm

Guess the UGA fans can start talking about how they’ll go undefeated next year.

PHIL

September 18th, 2010
6:15 pm

What is so bad about what Grantham said? It’s accurate and truthful. It’s also the same problem with coach Willie. The players SUCK.

monkey says

September 18th, 2010
6:15 pm

Jeff,

You said it all, and it is now becoming evident that UGA is not going to move forward with the current staff in place.

What was the mood in the Press Box today, before, during and after the game from the Tie wearers?

Wow, this program stinks...

September 18th, 2010
6:16 pm

And Richt is making about $8,400 per day (every day) under his current contract. I am fed up with the utter lack of coaching and consistency in this program.

Tony Barnhart

September 18th, 2010
6:16 pm

Jeff,

This is not what we expect of you.
You know the company line.

New Blood needed

September 18th, 2010
6:17 pm

3 and 4, game on the line, freshman QB, crappy OL and a kicker that can nail it from the railroad tracks……everyone go deep. This was the worst call I have EVER seen a UGA coach make. Time to face the music folks. We have the worst staff in the SEC. We have a RB coach coaching receivers. We have a WR coaching RBs. Our OL coach is not living up to the bill. Our OC couldn’t get a job in the sun belt conference and our HC is soft. McGarity needs to clean this mess up ASAP. Richt’s best team was in 01 and that was with Donnan’s players. Mark, go practice your backflips and let’s get a real coach in here.

Tom Petty

September 18th, 2010
6:17 pm

And I’m freeeeeeee…….

Tony Barnhart

September 18th, 2010
6:18 pm

Let me remind you… PLAY TO THE BASE.

Now things are not that bad.
SC and Ark are two of THE BEST teams ever. We just caight em at the wrong time. And what about AJ. THIS is the 3rd GAME in ROW without him.

He would’ve stopped that las drive!

les wood

September 18th, 2010
6:19 pm

Folks there really are more important things to worry about other than UGA football . But that being said …when is Richt and company going to be shown the stadium exit ? Richt should just take to the pulpit full time !

Tony Barnhart

September 18th, 2010
6:19 pm

The SEC is the best coference ever.

The Grinch

September 18th, 2010
6:19 pm

I disagree that the situation is as devoid of hope as you paint it, Jeff. It was a bad loss, but I think we’ll get it together. There’s plenty of talent and Murray loos like the real deal.

What was unacceptable was not having a receiver within 20 yards of Murray on that absolutely crucial 3rd and 4 in what should have been the game winning drive. You HAVE to have a checkdown for a freshman QB in that situation. You just do. Bobo is terrible.

Grantham’s not looking great at the moment but I have reason to believe the D will improve gradually under him. The offense will NEVER improve under Bobo. He’s just got to go.

Tony Barnhart

September 18th, 2010
6:20 pm

Those sissy’s in the ACC can’t play real football

Cuz

September 18th, 2010
6:20 pm

The argument is ‘02 New Blood. Just trying to help.

Dooner

September 18th, 2010
6:21 pm

All the things you said are true, but do remember you talking about the terrible decision that Alabama made a couple years ago. Wish Georgia would do the same.

Bryan G.

September 18th, 2010
6:21 pm

You’re right Jeff – the late game rally covered up the fact that the last 7 quarters we have played were awful. They truly are Goff-ian.

It’s more than just players right now. It’s attitude, it’s coaching…it’s a lot of things. I’m not sure what the answer is. I thought it was Willie Martinez, but now I’m not so sure it isn’t far worse.

RC in the ATL

September 18th, 2010
6:21 pm

Lordy, Schultz. You got me ready to jump off a bridge reading this article. Anything positive to say at all?

Tony Barnhart

September 18th, 2010
6:22 pm

The Dawgs, playing without their best player for the 3RD straight game due to ridiculous sanctions by the NCAA, rallied bravely in the 4th quarter, only to fall short.

crap sandwich

September 18th, 2010
6:22 pm

We might even throw in Special teams, which don’t seem very special right now.

The Chop

September 18th, 2010
6:22 pm

Dooner,

True that, but Saban is a mercenary (ala Pete Caroll), who can’t believe he failed in the NFL and will bolt Tuscaloosa as soon as he gets his “chance at redemption”. He is a mercenary (and a great football coach).

Kenny

September 18th, 2010
6:23 pm

Washaun Ealey keeps making big gaffes: a big fumble last week and two huge sacks caused by his missed blocks this week. I guess I am saying he is not a complete player. Good runner at times but capable of big goofs at terrible times. And I think you could say that about a lot of the players which means it’s the coaches. Richt brought some great things to Georgia but he has also failed to beat Florida and other big rivals. His teams get stomped a lot giving up huge numbers of points. That never happened before; at least not as regularly. Just flat out stomped by Alabama, Florida and Tennessee lately. And worst of all, he loses (at home) to schools like Vandy, South Carolina and Kentucky now. HIs vaunted road record is not so great lately and he plays about 50/50 with ranked teams at home and loses on the road. The negative is beginning to outweigh the positive. He’s resting on his laurels I guess. If he loses six or seven or eight games this year, which seems likely, his overall record will still look great. When you break it all down and look at recent years and the big failures in big games, he’s not getting it done. Pretty embarrassing. And by the way, will Georgia please dump the Jacksonsville game? That’s a home game for Florida.

Bob Horners emotional issues

September 18th, 2010
6:23 pm

TML

September 18th, 2010
6:23 pm

I told you Muttlanders last night – Richt is too soft and will never win you a national title. In 2010, it’s looking like he won’t even win you 6-7 games.

http://www.stinGTees.com

todd grantham

September 18th, 2010
6:23 pm

I was much happier in Dallas.

Tony Barnhart

September 18th, 2010
6:24 pm

Jeff,

… now get in line with the me, Mark, etc. al , just like Jesse Outlar used to do. It’s not that bad once you get used to it. Open wide for the Dawgs

Eric C.

September 18th, 2010
6:24 pm

Good analysis for the most part, but I think you underestimate what a guy like Green can do for the offense. In the Dawgs’ last drive, he certainly could have made a difference just because the defense has to respect him so much on the deep routes. Murray was holding onto the ball too long in several cases leading to sacks…blame both inexperience and coverage for a few sacks. Honestly, I was as disappointed with the punting game as anything…how about that lousy punt prior to the winning TD.

Hurtin Dawg

September 18th, 2010
6:24 pm

THIS HAS GOT TO STOP !!! Every year we get our hopes up, every August our team is challenging for the SEC title, every February we sign the top guys in the nation, WE SHOULD NOT BE 1-2, WE SHOULD NOT BE 0-2 in the SEC. Something has to change

SOMETHING HAS GOT TO CHANGE !!

Our team SUCKS !! We lost to freakin Arkansas !!!!

RAMBLE ON!!!

September 18th, 2010
6:25 pm

Shreveport anyone?

SatchelBuzz

September 18th, 2010
6:25 pm

Yeah,…we lost lost to Kansas,..but we bouncd back with a huge conference win on the road. We’re 2-1 and moving forward. You just lost to a team that notched it’s first road win in the conference in some 4 years. You just lost to BOBBY PETRINO. On 9-18-10,….you’re season is over. How does it feel ugag?

THWG!!!!

A R

September 18th, 2010
6:25 pm

The real question is: should Richt stay should he replace Bobo and Searles, or should he be held accountable for not replacing them sooner. Jury is still out on Grantham–he’s installing a radically new system–some of those wide open receivers were because of mental errors by the players who are still acclamating to the new system…

The Chop

September 18th, 2010
6:26 pm

TML,

Agreed, but as a Techie, you can’t be as delusional to think that Paul Johnson can bring you anything more, can you?

[...] Schultz [...]

5150 P.O.A.D

September 18th, 2010
6:26 pm

CUZ I hope you didnt’ cus too much during the game. If Murry was healthy last year an got some game experience he would be real scary. Murry is good. He held the ball too long but he also didn’t throw but 1 INT.
Wow UT just scored. back to a 7 point game.
Give Baylie a hug and you know I poke at the dawgs just for fun. I have had to live with UGA fans giving me hell since 2001.

Robert

September 18th, 2010
6:26 pm

WILL MUSCHAMP or CHRIS PETERSON….NOW!

Chief Nock A Homa

September 18th, 2010
6:28 pm

Bobo went from utter conservative play calling last week, to inconsistent and play calling that simply didn’t make any sense…

When Richt first got here, he came with excitement and an unpredictable approach… He even went with the no-huddle… We were effective… We have slowly regressed offensively, and defensively we just can’t get the right players in place…

Why not trace steps back to what worked??

tenn.DAWG

September 18th, 2010
6:28 pm

Very disappointed Grantham is not accepting any blame.He needs to man up along with Searles O-Line.We’ll see what happens now that they might be coaching for their jobs.I’m glad we have Coach Fox.

Dawg-gone

September 18th, 2010
6:28 pm

Richt saved his job by firing Willie last year. Might be time to move on. This is the SEC.

tt33

September 18th, 2010
6:28 pm

How do we keep getting top 5 recrutiing classes every year with NUMEROUS 5 STAR players and end up with THIS!!! I am sure when the recruting rankings come out next Feb. we will be in the top 10. I guess the OLE BALL COACH was Rigtht “I don’t know what happens to those 5 stars when the get to Georgia”. Maybe we should be like TECH and recruit more 3 stars with less ego!!

ICMIII

September 18th, 2010
6:28 pm

It’s time for Richt and Bobo to go bye-bye.

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

September 18th, 2010
6:28 pm

Well, they got the dog ____ (something I emit) beat out of them on that last TD. Maybe they can beat Idaho St., maybe not. Anyway, the fans have gone back to their trailers and I’m left with a bunch of dried paint on my posterior.

Well, I’ve always wanted to see Nashville, though it’ll be cold there in December.

phil

September 18th, 2010
6:29 pm

Face it UGA fans, Bobo ain’t goin nowhere. He is UGA born and bred. Richt will never fire Bobo!

bigdawg

September 18th, 2010
6:30 pm

You got worked by Bobby Petrino!!!

Robert

September 18th, 2010
6:30 pm

2-6 RECORD IN LAST 8 SEC GAMES!!!!!

Please, blind Richt apologists, defend this statement.